Re-reading Nakba

Re-reading Nakba

As the social media is flooding with statuses and articles about Balfour declaration in these days, commemorating the 100th year of a promise to a Jewish homeland, that set the ground of the creation of the State of Israel.  I feel for the first time in my life as an adult that I am ready to re-read the Nakba.

It took me, however, years inside my adulthood to read about the Nakba. As if it has been part of a collective catastrophe (which it is) that I personally lived and endured, and some parts of my brain always insisted on blocking. It always felt like a grave injury that lived on your skin for so long, and you are too vulnerable on touching it, for fear of opening it and getting it infected.

I have dared, however, in the last years to dig more into the matter. Getting anything from my parents or my grandmother is impossible. There is something that this issue is treated with a certain feeling of shame and defeat that they prefer to say that they don’t remember.

Falling into the trap of blame game, that from one side we Palestinians have lived with inside our own depths, and blaming the Israelis for that misery as a sole responsibility for this is another side of this trap.

The complexity of this conflict lies in its simplicity. The permanency of it, as well as the denial and throwing responsibilities on others, made it complicated, to a level that it is irreversibly manageable after 67 years.

I think on the occasion of the commemoration of the Nakba this year. We Palestinians should, next to holding the keys of our dwelled upon homes, start a close re-reading of the Nakba. Not focusing on Israel as our primary opponent. Israel at the end was a result of a UN resolution that the international community abide by. It is not that I am removing Israelis from the responsibility of occupation. In the end, the Jews agreed to come to a land with people whom they first ignored their existence, and when they found them, they committed crimes against them, in what the history would one day confirm is an ethnic cleansing of a nation.

But that Israel is responsible for that alone, is where I think we should start to change our focus on. Which is of course practically impossible, because Israel refuses to deal with us except as an occupier vs. occupied. Israel has failed to prove to us that its need for a country that will mark their rise as a nation and their very own existence was not merely against us the people of Palestine. Maybe it is true that the Jews were in such a critical need, and a real threat to their existence was taking place. After all, the Nazis eradication of the Jews in Europe wasn’t a proud moment for modern civilization. Could it be that these people were so traumatized to a level where their survival became the only possible means of existence, as they knew it, and as a result, they justified all the crimes they committed against the Palestinians?

While what became Israel and Palestine remain busy occupied in fighting one against the other, in what seems to be an eternal fight for the very existence, many elements that comprised of different powers and factors benefited both from the creation of Israel and the continuation of the occupation.

A question that I am re-asking to myself is: given the facts on the assumed war of 1948, and the wars that followed, what was the real role of the Arab power? Who among them really fought against Israel and who actually fought on the side of Israel? It was a period that the “Arab World” of the “Middle East” was as new as Israel itself. As much as the Zionist movement, comprised of not only Jews, leading the Jews towards an illusion of “the land without people to the people without land.” The Arabs were dragged into the Arab nationalism that convincingly was ripped away from them by being marginalized in their own homelands in the last decades of the Ottoman Empire. All that became of the Middle East and its leaders were nothing but chosen carefully by the colonial powers. So it is important for us Palestinians to look deeper into this matter. The price of giving shares of what became the Middle East and Arab reign as a result of coup-ing against the Ottomans was a sacrifice called Palestine. Does Israel fall as the only responsible side in this? The formation of Israel was part of a deal outside the region, that it served more than one element, first, finding a final solution to the Jewish problem that has been bothering Europe for many centuries, by maybe sending them voluntarily to their own exile. Another element was definitely keeping a close eye and control over the newly created the Middle East. There was a need to have something “Israel,” in which each of the new and previous colonial powers has access to in the region, especially after the discovery of the resources of the area.

Whereas, in the meantime, the new Israelis continued to convince themselves that this was God’s promised land, not Balfour’s. And the Palestinians continued to convince themselves that an Arab awakening is coming, and the legacy of the Arab Islamic triumphs will remain… it is only a slumber phase of Arab-Islamism.

By the time the leaders of the two invented entities “Israel-Palestine” realized the real scandal their existence vs non-life involves, each side became viciously what we live today ; a monstrous greedy Israel, who might as well fulfill a biblical legacy , and a weak, naïve, Palestine , who might as well get enough from coloring itself with green, red, black and white to keep its place on the map of existence, realizing that Arab nationalism is nothing but oil, money , power fed nationalism .

So much of an un-read, needed to be read of our history should be how we commemorate our ongoing Nakba.


  1. I wish I was there to stand with you on this day, and everyday. It’s so easy for us in the west to merely look and say “What a shame” and do nothing. At this point, travelling to Palestine is not a possibility for me, so I have to show my support this way, by reposting and passing along your beautiful words to more people.

  2. You raise a very important point Nadia, about the Arab world. We must go back to WW I and see the way that the efforts of Lawrence to unite the Arab countries was derailed by his own country men. History of certain nations just seem circular. The West in fear of a United Arab world, and against Russia. When we look at Israel as an extension of that history it takes on another dimension. But, unfortunately any way you look at it, the Palestinian people are the suffering pawns.

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